Michael L. Morgan provides a general introduction that places Spinoza in Western philosophy and culture and sketches the philosophical, scientific, religious, moral and political dimensions of Spinoza’s thought. Morgan’s brief introductions to each work give a succinct historical, biographical, and philosophical overview. A chronology and index are included.
Spinoza is today considered the Philosopher of Modern Times, as Aristotle was the Philosopher of Antiquity. In spite of which, he remains the best known and least read of the great thinkers.
The Book of God, one of his earliest works, came to light only a hundred years ago in two slightly varying Dutch manuscripts. Its youthful author lived in turbulent times, when the Western world was torn by civil and religious strife, and bullies, bigots and pseudo-prophets vied for the ear of a fearful people. While Europe was in an uproar over the right church, Spinoza was seeking the right God. This book is the first known report of his findings. Appearing like a draft for his later Ethics, it is a Guide for the Bewildered. Those who see in philosophy no more than an intellectual exercise will have no difficulty dismissing it. But those imbued with the longing for a better and freer life will find here a most rewarding fountain of faith.
II. A thing is called finite after its kind, when it can be limited by another thing of the same nature; for instance, a body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited by another thought, but a body is not limited by thought, nor a thought by body.
III. By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.
IV. By attribute, I mean that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance.
V. By mode, I mean the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.
VI. By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite—that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.
Appearing for the first time in English translation, Lodewijk Meyer's inaugural dissertation on matter (1683)--relevant for its comments on Descartes, Spinoza, and other thinkers of the time--is appended with notes and a short commentary. Cross-references to Descartes's Principles of Philosophy are provided in an index, and there is an extensive bibliography.
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) is heralded as one of the most influential and radical philosophers of the Enlightenment. An expert on the Talmud and Jewish scriptures, Spinoza is known for his moral philosophy and his views on theology and ethics. He devoted his life to the study of philosophy and Judaism and wrote several philosophical texts throughout his career, including his most extensive and famous tome, Ethics.
This edition includes exclusive commentary and biographical notes written by Dagobert D. Runes.